Yeretzian Book Captures Beauty of Ornate Initials

GLENDALE — It was a full house at the Glendale Central Library auditorium on Wednesday, February 5, as Abril Bookstore and Publishing presented the book release celebration of artist Seeroon Yeretzian’s new publication dedicated to the Armenian ornate initials, Seeroon Darer, a book celebrating her 25 years of research and mastery of the medieval Armenian art of the illuminated manuscripts and ornate letters.

After an opening prayer by Archbishops Hovnan Derderian and Moushegh Mardirosian and a welcoming by Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, the program began with the artist’s son, Arno Yeretzian, who presented a remarkable multimedia introduction to what could be found in this lavish new volume. Included in the segment were two video clips showing artist Seeroon Yeretzian in action while painting two of her masterpieces. This brought the house to tears as they witnessed the artist — who has recently been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease — in her prime, painting this difficult art of gradations and fine lines with such ease and finesse.

Both archbishops presented Seeroon with congratulatory scrolls and lead a special prayer for her. Seeroon, in turn, presented both of them with gifts of her own of two of her famous peacocks, stating the following, “Peacocks are usually found on top of Khorans. They are the protectors of Heaven. They have all the colors like rainbows and they represent the sun, which is the source of life on earth. Peacocks are symbolic of Pride in Armenian unity and brotherhood that I wish for our nation Armenia to have.”

Vatche Mankerian, the well-known pianist who just recently received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, presented a beautiful speech in Armenian conveying his deep respect and admiration of Seeroon Yeretzian’s work and for her amazing role in continuing this ancient old tradition of the illuminated Armenian arts and bringing it to the current generation. He followed by performing on piano a few pieces by Arno Babajanian and Komitas.

Aram Samuelian, brother of Bedros Samuelian, who sponsored the book from Lebanon, congratulated Seeroon for her work.  The final speaker of the night was Harry Mesrobian, the art director and designer of the book.  Mesrobian  was the person who ignited Seeroon’s passion for this art form, as he walked inside of the old Abril Bookstore one day in 1988, picked up a book presenting the art of the Medieval Armenian manuscripts and asked, “Has Anybody ever done a complete alphabet using these ornate letters?”  Harry gave a very heartfelt and amazing speech signifying Seeroon’s artistic excellence and her crucial role in bringing this art to the modern age.  Harry has shared the same office as Seeroon for 25 years and has seen her develop her huge line of art dedicated to this art.  This has been an honor for him to witness and to be inspired by.

Elizabeth Grigorian, the Armenian outreach coordinator of the Glendale Public Library, presented Seeroon Yeretzian with numerous commendations by different governmental representatives including assemblyman Mike Gatto and Rep. Adam Schiff (D). This followed with a final speech by Seeroon Yeretzian, read by her son, Arno Yeretzian.

Seeroon Yeretzian expressed how doing this worked changed her life forever.  She urged the audience to stop staring at iPhone or computer screens and to wake up and be in the moment.  She encouraged them, especially women, to continue this art form as a source of peace, meditation, and medication.  The evening was concluded with a kinetson ceremony, a tradition that her late husband, Harout Yeretzian had introduced to the Los Angeles community more than 30 years ago, where wine is poured onto the pages of the book as a symbolic blessing.

Seeroon Darer is a true labor of love by Seeroon Yeretzian. Borne onto the pages of Armenian illuminated manuscripts during the Middle Ages, the Armenian ornate initials come to life once again in the 21st century through her hand. This book presents a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment dedicated to revealing the intrinsic beauty of these mystical letters. The volume presents a treasure of aesthetic expression, rich colors and majestic elegance with over 850 Armenian ornate initials, 248 of which are original designs by the artist herself, all accompanied by illuminations, ornamentations and poignant insights.